The work ‘astrology’ comes from the Latin ‘astrologia’ which is derived from the Greek words ‘astron’, constellation or star, and ‘logia’, the study of, so the literal translation of the word ‘astrology’ is ‘the study of the stars’.
There are many traditions of astrology ranging from the Vedic, the oldest form of astrology, to the Chinese and Egyptian traditions. This article will focus on the Western astrology.
Astrological readings are based on your birth details; time, date and place of birth. Astrologers will use the positions of the planets when you were born to determine how they will affect different areas of your lives. For example, the sign mercury occupied when you were born will show how your mind works. Venus shows the way your heart works and the way you relate to others and the moon describes the way your emotions work. These factors result in a totally detailed and comprehensive picture of you.
There are 12 Astrological signs each representing different attributes of personality.
* Aries – Heady, energetic, experiential, assertive & independent
* Taurus – slow, relaxed, practical, loyal, persistent & talented
* Gemini – interesting, communicative, intelligent & witty
* Cancer – moody, sensitive, caring, affectionate & loving
* Leo – playful, proud, passionate, creative & fun
* Virgo – focused, discerning, skilful, flexible & present
* Libra – charming, peaceful, polite, artistic & diplomatic
* Scorpio – intense, feeling, passionate, involved & probing
* Sagittarius – enthusiastic, adventurous, joyful & experiential
* Capricorn – sincere, structured, disciplined, ambitious & cautious
* Aquarius – spontaneous, rebellious & changeable
* Pisces – trusting, sensitive, psychic, artistic & adaptable
Most people know what star sign they are, the sign of the zodiac they are born under. This is known as your ‘sun sign’ and is who we are and what we identify with. It is our creativity and individuality. But knowing your sun sign is far from the whole picture. The other planets in your solar system also have a part to play.
The Zodiac sign rising over the horizon at birth is known in astrology as the Rising Sign or Ascendant. The ascendant governs the personality and qualities used to express ones self. It is the doorway between the person and the outside world. The ascendant also rules physical appearance. When we look at someone it is this that we are seeing. In the game of ‘guess what sign I am?’ it is the ascendant that is most easily recognised, although it is of course influenced by other factors in the chart.
The Rising Sign, or Ascendant, is the beginning of the first house of any chart. A chart is divided into 12 parts or houses. The way these houses are divided depends on what method we use. If we use the ‘Equal House’ system, each of the houses are equal in size. If we use the ‘Placidus House’ system, which takes into account that we are born on the surface of the planet rather than at the centre, the houses are not divided equally.
The 12 houses relate to different aspects of life:
The First House rules new beginnings and the ways in which we express ourselves.
The Second House governs our talents and abilities, personal finances and resources.
The Third House relates to communications and learning, and also siblings.
The Fourth House is to do with the home and family. It is our foundation and support in life
The Fifth House is the house of hobbies and pastimes. It relates to creativity, children and play.
The Sixth House relates to work, duty, service, health and healing.
The Seventh House signifies our connection with others. It is the house of partnerships and relationship.
The Eighth House represents joint finances. It also relates to therapy and the ways in which we nurture others.
The Ninth House is the House of higher education, travel and experiences that teach us about life.
The Tenth House is associated with responsibilities and commitment. It governs career, marriage, and parenting.
The Eleventh House is the house of friends and socialising. It also relates to our aspirations for the future.
The Twelfth House is associated with meditation and aloneness. It is also the house of dreams and ideas.
To make things easier to understand in this example we will use the ‘Equal House’ system.
On a chart the houses are drawn in an anti clockwise direction. The first house is always beginning at 9 o’clock which means the second house will be at 8 o’clock, the third house at seven o’clock and so on until we reach the twelfth house at 10 o’clock.
If we are born with a Rising Sign of Sagittarius it means that our first house, which rules new beginnings and the ways in which we express ourselves, will be effected by the energy of the sign in that house – in this case Sagittarius. The energy of Sagittarius is Positive, optimistic, knowledgeable, adventurous, enthusiastic, experiential, honest, it is about teaching, encouraging, Higher education, policing, the law, politics, religion. This will make the way we express ourselves quite optimistic. With the first house being about new beginnings and Sagittarius being about adventure, we will not be afraid to make changes in our lives. This is a very basic interpretation but it gives you the idea.
As the planets move through the different houses they also influence us:
The Sun is who we are and what we identify with. It is our creativity and individuality. Each of the Zodiac signs ‘shines’ in different ways relevant to the qualities of the sign it occupies.
The Moon governs our feelings and emotional life. It also represents our family, particularly the Mother. The qualities of the sign it occupies influences the way we feel and respond to life.
Mercury influences communication on all levels. The sign Mercury occupies tells us how we learn, what we think about and where our interest may lie.
Venus rules relationships and partnerships. Our relating and relationships are affected by the qualities of the sign Venus occupies.
Mars represents our sexuality and basic driving force. It is the planet of energy, energizing and activating us in ways relating to the qualities of the sign it occupies. Mars also directs us towards working in the areas of life governed by the sign it is in.
Jupiter relates to the qualities of honesty, optimism and joy. Among other things, it governs spirituality, religion, philosophy, journalism, higher education, travel and the law. Jupiter represents the kind of knowledge that comes easy to us.
Chiron, Discovered towards the end of the 20th Century, relates to health and healing. Sometimes referred to as the wounded healer, it can expose our weaknesses in order that we may heal them. This process can sometimes involve us in the healing of others.
Saturn is the planet of mastery; it governs discipline and commitment, parents, marriage, parenting and career. It affects the way we structure our lives and rules organisations and governing bodies. The placement of Saturn shows our limitations and it is sometimes as a result of the restrictions imposed by Saturn that we learn our greatest lessons and achieve our most important goals.
Uranus represents our uniqueness, individuality and social contribution.
Neptune represents dreams and intuition, fears, fantasies and ideals.
Pluto represents power and destiny.
North Node is an indicator as to the types of roles we need to develop in life and the qualities we need to cultivate.
So a good example of how we are influenced by the planets would be to look at the moon. As the moon, which is all about feelings, passes through the first house we ‘feel’ like taking action or starting something new. As the moon moves through the second house we ‘feel’ our self-worth. As the moon moves through the third house we ‘feel’ like communicating, as the moon moves through the fourth house we ‘feel’ emotional, and so it goes on through all the houses and their relative energies. As you can see, taking into consideration all the planets moving through all the 12 houses we have a good idea about what is going on for someone in any given moment.
But this is still not the whole picture. Planets also influence other planets, this is known as the ‘aspects between planets’.
There are many aspects which can be used but the most common are listed below. An aspect comes into being when there is an exact amount of degrees between planets. There is a level of tolerance in each case and this varies between astrologers. As a general rule the planet farthest from the Sun in the solar system has influence over the other. Where there is a challenge the outer planet will have a negative affect until the other planet gets its message and learns to use the positive qualities of that planet. These are our life lessons. Positive alignments gifts we were born with.
Conjunction – same degree – tolerance 10’ – beneficial and challenging. They may support each other or get in each other’s way.
Opposition – 180’ apart – tolerance 10’ – challenging. Planets may turn on each other or simply not want to know and head off in separate directions.
Trine– 120’ apart – tolerance 10’ – beneficial. These planets work extremely well together.
Square– 90’ apart – tolerance 10’ – challenging. The planets have trouble working together.
Sextile– 60’ apart – tolerance 5’ – beneficial. Planets can work together.
Inconjunction– 150’ apart – tolerance 5’ – needs working on. These planets need to adapt and change before they can work together.
As planets travel they form aspects to the planets in our birth charts, these are called transits. They prompt, stimulate or challenge those parts of us that the planet in our chart represents. In terms of their influence, the major planets are felt one month either side of the exact alignment. The exception is Jupiter which affects us about a week either side of the exact date.
As we are not in the centre of the solar system it appears that planets go backwards from time to time. This is called retrograde motion and it means that some major transits can be experienced many times before the planets move out of aspect. Sometimes each alignment of a series can act as different chapters in an unfolding of a story.
There are many different readings that can be given:
We have a general reading that will look at how the planets have, and will, affect our lives from birth to old age and death.
We have transit readings that will look at the year ahead and tell us what influences the planets will have in different areas of our lives.
There is also a relationship reading that works with 2 charts, one for each person in the relationship. This is a great indication of how areas of confliction or friction may be overcome and positive influences made the most of.
We have the karmic reading that gives the view of Esoteric Astrology on the Soul’s progression through different lifetimes. It looks at past life lessons and challenges; the roles we have had and how the things we have learnt can be used to benefit us in this life. It looks at how we have used our power and authority, how we have rebelled and how we have become attached or stuck. The Karmic reading offers insight and inspiration that can help you to connect with your Soul purpose and live a fulfilling life.
And we have the progressed chart reading that looks at how you may have developed the qualities present in your birth chart since you were born to date. If we look at where the planets were 20 days after you were born then we can see how you may have developed at the age of 20 years. You keep your original qualities but the use to which you put them will change over the years. This reading shows something of the cycles in your life and the timing of new phases.
Pictures with kind permission from http://freeimages.co.uk , images from NASA National Space Science Data Center. Please note this site is not endorsed by NASA or any of its agencies.